|To reimburse or not to reimburse|
|Wednesday, 25 November 2009 00:00|
Lane Freiberger and Kathy Zelivetz, are members of the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, approached the commissioners regarding reimbursement for training in the assessment field.
Both stated they were under the assumption that they would be reimbursed by the county and both tried to submit a claim through the Washington County Accessors, were denied by Accessor Jason Cockerill.
“I am getting a mixed version of how the reimbursement policy is handled,” Frieberger said. “I have a claim for $650 in expenses, mostly in mileage and would like a answer.”
Cockerill said the answer was simple in that there isn't any money in the budget to pay the claim.
“There is no money at this time,” he said. “The money that was appropriated for training was gone in late March. I did request additional money for this at this years budget hearing but was denied additional monies. I can not approve a claim with no money.”
Commissioner Dave Brown echoed Cockerill's answer.
“It is very hard for us to pay a claim if there is no money in the budget, we are very dedicated to that,” he said.
According to the commissioners there is a policy in place that one needs to go through the department head to get approval of a claim. Once the department head approves, the claim gets passed to commissioners for final approval.
Freiberger was frustrated with the answer. “It's meaningless, we will never get reimbursed.” he said.
“The board is going to a three member board next year, I believe there would be money available for training purposes, also there will be less hearings to attend, which will help with saving money,” stated Cockerill.
Zelivetz made the argument that Cockerill's staff gets reimbursed for training purposes and wanted to know how that was paid for. She said she was also under the impression that prior authorization was not needed.
Zelivetz said she never got prior authorization when former assessor Richard Truebloood was in office.
Cockerill said his staff gets a lot of their training from conferences that they attend which does not cost any additional money, not to mention things are tighter financially these days.
“When Richard Trueblood was in office the budget was $76,000,” Cockerill said. “I simply do not have that in the budget.”
Commissioner Lana Sullivan agreed with Brown and Cockerill.
“I believe Accessor Cockerill followed local policy and I don't believe this board can take any action,” she said.
Sullivan said she believes if proper procedure would have been followed they would have knew right away the money wasn't available and he wouldn't have been out the money.
“We should not have been involved with this in my opinion,” she said. “There wasn't even a claim for us to approve in front of us. Some times people think the commissioners are over other elected officials and really we're not. We are elected officials just like they are. In this situation we weren't able to help.”
The commissioners' next meeting will be Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2009 12:58|